Oddies on Display at Mutter Museum
A look at medical history, real human body parts, and medical instruments
Touted as “America’s finest museum of medical history,” the Mutter Museum inside the College of Physicians of Philadelphia houses a fine collection of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments. The museum serves the purpose of educating the general public on medical mysteries so they can better appreciate the human body.
The Soap Lady
The Soap Lady is on permanent display at Mutter Museum. The name given to a woman whose body was exhumed in 1975, this unique artifact is special because it’s encased by a fatty substance known as Adipocere. The fatty substance is rare, forming inside alkaline, airless environments such as that where she was buried.
Unseen provides your chance to see beyond the normal artifacts included inside the Mutter Museum. A photographic collection created by Nikki Johnson, Unseen offers a photographic collection of some of the 30,000 items inside the museum that aren’t displayed.
This collection opened in February 2021.
Exhibits inside Mutter Museum never cease to amaze and shock visitors. Some cannot be placed in the general museum area for one or more reasons. Often, the items are not displayed because a similar specimen fills the museum already. Other times the specimen is fragile or needs special care.
Unseen provides a never before seen look at interesting artifacts and specimens tucked away at Mutter Museum. Visitors have the chance to explore the following collections:
The Wet Room
The Wet Room contains preserved tissue samples field in alcohol or other solutions inside glass jars. The solution helps prevent decomposition. Inside the Wet Room are thousands of pieces of tissues, some anatomic specimens, others dissected. Each specimen inside the Wet Room illustrates the effects of disease and trauma on the body.
The Bone Room
Home to anatomic and pathologic skeletal bones, some acquired from the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Maryland, the Bone Room features 100+ year old bones.
T he Stacks
The Stacks are seven floors of medical items donated to the museum. These items are not displayed due to the need for special storage to preserve them. Now, Unseen gives you the chance to get up close and personal with these items. Wax models, medical equipment, and anatomic specimens are among the items found along the floors of The Stacks.
More Exhibits at Mutter Museum
Other displays you can see at Mutter Museum include:
Dating back to the 19th century, these preserved human hands show the effects of a medical condition known as gout. The condition is quite common these days. The human hands are part of Dr. Mutter’s collection. Dr. Mutter suffered from gout later in his life.
One of the more morbid items displayed at Mutter Museum, this set of conjoined Siamese twins was donated by an anonymous medical school after students found it hidden inside a closet. The conjoined twins were born stillborn during the 19th century.
Another pair of hands exhibited at Mutter Museum; these hands are part of the Grimm’s Anatomy exhibit.
A colon infected with Dysentery is displayed at Mutter Museum. This was a common ailment during the 19th and 20th centuries.
If you live in or plan to visit Philadelphia in the near future, make sure to visit Mutter Museum. It is one museum visit that will give you plenty to talk about with your friends. Purchase tickets online at a cost of $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $15 for students. Children under 5 are admitted free. Mutter Museum staff recommend the museum for children ages 10 and up.